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The Great Office Supplies Caper

Office Products Resellers, their Social Activity and Social Shares

by Ian M. Elliott | Jan 10, 2017 7:47:00 AM

In this, the fifth of a seven-part series of articles, I'm about to explain the importance of social activity and, in particular, social shares. Sometimes described as the "social currency", or the accounting for information that's shared by people as they go about their everyday lives and, for which a concise definition was provided by Russ Klein in an American Marketing Association blog:

“Social currency refers to the pull or influence that a consumer has among his peers, and social currency strategies are arguably the most critical point of leverage for a marketer.”

The Series Index & Links to Access

I'll be publishing the final two parts of this series during the next week or so, as I complete the additional support promised for the argument I presented in my December 20, 2016, article, "How the Office Products Industry has Failed the Resellers".


It's the social shares that make up the currency of the internet and it's the shares that amplify a message across the expanse of the internet. As also explained by Russ Klein, social currency describes how word of mouth "that has value to a user but then increases in value as that currency is passed along from one to another or, in the most powerful cases, from one to many."

Take a look at the example displayed in the image below.

Social Currency and Social Shares.jpg

As you can see, this article was shared on LinkedIn 72 times.

Let's just assume for a moment that the average audience of each of the 72 persons that shared the content is 500 persons. The math is simple (72 x 500 = 36,000) and represents a substantial audience that we couldn't have placed the content in front of without the amplification the shares provided. Furthermore, each of these shares was made with the implicit endorsement of the sharer, effectively carrying his or her seal of approval before it was placed in front of their personal audiences.

It should be clear, from the title of the article, that the subject matter was focused on the aftermarket office supplies industry. Its initial publication was targeted at relevant LinkedIn Groups and a specific network of Business Supplies and Equipment Industry, LinkedIn members. As such, we know the publication was delivered to a relevant audience, whereupon it was then shared a further seventy-two times to each of the sharers respective networks or audiences.

It's not an unreasonable assumption to make, that the interests of the secondary audience were also significantly concentrated in the area of Business Supplies and Equipment. If this were not the case then you'd have to ask why these 72 members elected to share the content at all. The underlying behavioral characteristic of a sharer is to help make themselves look good in front of others and they will fail in this goal if they don't expect the information they share to be relevant and of interest to their respective audiences.

So, I am able to conclude from this activity, that ultimately, not only were we able to place this content in front of as many 36,000 LinkedIn members, it's also likely that a high proportion of these members had relevant interests.

A snapshot taken from the "unique visitor" data provided by our Alexa analytics is shown in the chart below. You can see the traffic spiked at the same time as the shares of this content were taking place. This, of course, fits our ultimate goal of driving relevant traffic to our website and clearly shows a correlation between the size of the audience obtained for this article and the number of unique visits to our website.

To further help with our web traffic objective, all the content we publish contains links back to other relevant content contained in our blog or elsewhere on our website. Each piece of content also includes at least two "calls to action" that provide access to other, more valuable pieces of content that we'll provide access to in exchange for contact information such as an email address. If our audience judges our content to be of sufficient vaTraffic Spike Image.jpglue or interest that they're prepared to provide us with their contact details and grant us permission to include them on our blog subscription list, then our content has done its job. In it doing its job, we gradually expand our audience and we gradually increase our brand equity. Furthermore, in capturing these details, we are able to subsequently determine whether a contact can be qualified as a sales opportunity or not.

"So long as we maintain the relevancy and quality of our material, then we will continue to expand our audience and continue to increase our brand equity with an ever increasing number of social shares. This process thereby starts to feed upon itself in a virtuous circle of activity"

As we develop our social currency and authority in our field, we also start to accumulate backlinks from our audience that value our content and insights. These, in turn, help increase our domain authority which, also in turn, then places us higher in search rankings. The whole process is interdependent and, if one piece is missing, or goes missing, it all breaks down. No one shares poor quality, irrelevant content, and no one spends time on poor quality websites. Therefore, it's logical to conclude, it's not possible to substantially improve domain authority or organic website traffic without this process being in place.

Of course, there are other ways to reach an audience but these involve paid advertising which can quickly become expensive, especially if you don't really know what you're doing. I'll be including the subject of paid advertising (which definitely has its role) in the next post in this series (Social Authority) so you'll then have a better understanding of just how this can be tailored into an overall digital strategy.

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Conclusions:

Office products resellers have been extraordinarily slow to adopt modern digital marketing tactics and their failure to use social platforms to communicate their value proposition leaves consumers paying much higher prices for office supplies than they could be. The opportunity to profitably grow small to medium-sized dealerships still exists but, in order to do so, it will be necessary to overcome the current reluctance to use social media, email marketing and modern inbound techniques deployed for the purposes of developing relevant web traffic.

The requirements for digital success revolve around content. Unique, relevant and high-quality content. This is the starting point for digital marketing and also the foundation for developing authoritative leadership positions promoting the story for why consumers should adopt smaller resellers value propositions as opposed to the higher priced "big-box" alternatives.

If you missed my recent eight-part series on the office supplies aftermarket tipping point, please check out my new eBook, it's just published, it's FREE, and it contains a thorough examination of the office supplies industry and a path to the $20 billion growth opportunity for independent resellers.

Free e-Book #2 Click Here for Access

Topics: Business Transformation, Small Business, Web Traffic

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Authored by a 35-year executive veteran of the Office Products and Supplies industry and containing unique perspectives on the industry, the modern digital world, and roadmaps for independent office products resellers to set off down the path toward digital transformations.

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